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Teacher Lesson Return to "Speak Out: Black Lives Matter"
Speak Out: Black Lives Matter
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
Coming Together


Story Summary: After the decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the white police officer accused of killing Eric Garner, who was black, five YCteen writers went to their first-ever protest and wrote about the experience.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections:
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students develop an expanded sense of possibility and belief that they can make a difference.
• Students will read and comprehend literary nonfiction proficiently (CCLS R.10).
• Students will write routinely for a range of tasks (CCLS W.10).
• Students practice participating in a discussion and responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives (CCLS SL. 1.c).

Before Reading the Story (10 min)
This opening activity will activate background knowledge to boost reading comprehension and set the emotional tone for the story.

1. Introduce Freewriting by explaining that students will have four minutes to respond to a prompt in writing. The goal is to express their thoughts freely without worrying about writing conventions. The expectation is that everyone writes, without stopping, for the full time. (Note: writing lists and/or drawing with labels are modifications that support diverse learners.)

2. Freewrite prompt: “Think of a time when you took a stand for something you believe in. What was the issue? What was your stand? What happened?”

3. Partner Share directions: Students should select a partner and/or turn to the person next to them. Facing each other, and practicing active listening, partners each take a turn sharing their responses to the freewrite prompt. Each speaker will have two minutes to talk and is in charge of what they choose to share from their writing. The listener does not need to respond. After two minutes, direct partners to switch roles.

During Reading (10 min)
By practicing active reading strategies while reading aloud and discussing as a group, students build comprehension and support fluency.

1. Introduce the story (see the summary above).
2. Share the expectations for a group read aloud; volunteers take turns reading aloud as much or as little as they would like. As the teacher, you may stop periodically to discuss or check in on active reading by asking students to share their responses to the story.
3. Active Reading directions: While reading, underline phrases that stand out to you as powerful, capturing a feeling, and/or painting a picture.
4. While still sitting in a circle, have volunteers read aloud.

After Reading the Story (30 min)
During this post-reading activity students will make connections, build understanding, and rehearse positive behaviors.

1. Spirit Read directions: Together, lift out and share the powerful phrases from the text that were underlined during the reading. Do not go in any specific order. Instead, take turns reading the phrases out loud. If two people speak at once, one person should back down and read after. Everyone should read at least one phrase they underlined. There is no discussion during the activity.
• Guide the group by beginning with a phrase you underlined and listening for how and when to close the spirit read.
• Be patient if there is quiet in between readings. You will find that a “found poem” emerges in the group.
• Thank them for their participation and transition to the next activity.

2. Introduce Table Talks as an opportunity for small peer group discussion of the bigger issues raised in this text about the protests in NYC after the decision in the Eric Garner case. Encourage students to think about how activism is a way to help shape our communities and create the kind of world we want to be a part of.

3. Table Talk directions: Have students form small groups of 3-4 students at a table. They should have their copies of the story with them so they can respond specifically to the text. To encourage equal participation, direct students to take turns in a go-round with each person having time to respond without interruption to each question. Afterwards, students may wish to open up the discussion to share their thoughts and questions.
• What is one point of connection you can make to the story? (Something that you agree with or that reminds you of your own experiences.)
• What is one point of departure you can make from the story? (Something you disagree with or see in another way.)
• What is one question this story raises for you?
• What is one thing in society that you feel has to change in order for you to build the future you want for yourself and others? Why?

4. Listen closely to your students’ discussions, intervening only if needed to ensure everyone’s voice and perspectives are being shared and listened to thoughtfully. If you are interested in following up with further inquiry into the issues raised in the YCteen article “Black Lives Matter,” we encourage you to explore these resources shared on #FergusonSyllabus and teachingforchange.org/teaching-about-ferguson.

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[Other Teacher Resources]
(NYC-2015-01-03)

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